All motor vehicle accidents, carry the potential for serious injury or even death. The devastation that can result from a crash involving a semi truck is potentially much greater, however, because the vehicles involved are that much larger. Due in part to this inherent danger, commercial truck drivers must have a commercial driver's license (CDL).
In Elysburg, Pennsylvania, there was a multi-vehicle accident recently involving a tractor trailer. Miraculously, the crash resulted in no deaths, although five people were taken to the hospital. The accident occurred on Route 54 at around 2:30 in the afternoon. According to reports, a Ford Mustang was traveling east on the roadway when it suddenly slowed down. The tractor trailer that was traveling behind the Mustang crashed into the rear of the car, causing the Mustang to cross over into the westbound lanes, where it collided with a Toyota Prius. The Prius was then hit by a Dodge Dakota pickup truck. The Mustang was severely damaged and firefighters used hydraulic equipment to extricate the driver from the vehicle.
In accidents such as these, where there is substantial damage to the vehicles as well as personal injury to the occupants, liability needs to be determined. In most cases, there will be a police investigation of the accident to determine liability. Where a truck driver who works for a trucking company is involved in an accident and found to have been negligent, then not only the truck driver but his employer can be liable for damages. The company is held liable under a legal doctrine called respondeat superior, which holds an employer liable for the negligence of its employee if the employee was in the course and scope of their employment at the time of the accident.
Source: Firehouse, "Four-Vehicle Pa. Crash Had Responders Scrambling," Justin Strawser, March 26, 2013